Video interview by Sam Webb
It's a good time to be a tight end in the Jim Harbaugh offense.
After proving that the Wolverines offense can be dynamic in terms of trotting out numerous tight ends onto the football, the offense can always use some extra playmakers outside of All-American Jake Butt.
For redshirt sophomore tight end Ian Bunting, he could potentially be another name to watch this upcoming season as a breakout performer. If his spring was any indication, he could find himself have a very successful season the more he understands the offense.
"I think I did well, I think I did really well," Bunting said. "Obviously, there's always room for improvement but I think, especially as a team, we got a lot better, too. I think I had a much better understanding this spring. Of course, I gained some weight and got some muscle on me. Moreso it was the mental side of it, I had that down more than I did in the past. When you've got that down, you can just play and react without thinking and everything is a lot faster."
One of the major knocks Bunting had against him before arriving in Ann Arbor was his inability to have his hand in the dirt to block players. While he argues that he loves to block, the Michigan defensive line makes it easy to get used to blocking. With talented players to an already stacked depth chart, Bunting says the defensive line has made his blocking abilities better in a hurry.
"We had Taco and Wormley, some big dudes out there," Bunting said. "Then they'd switch it up and have Chase Winovich and Lawrence Marshall out there, some not as big but quicker and faster guys. Really, we've got a great defensive line. I love going up against them, it makes me a better player every day going up against them. Whether it's the big guys or the quicker guys, or anyone really."
With the Wolverines playing as many as four tight ends at one time, there is no shortage of tight end talent on the depth chart right now. Just how many tight ends could U-M possibly play at one time? According to Bunting, the possibilities are endless.
"Last year we had sets where he had four tight ends on the field," Bunting said. "I'm not going to put a limit on it (laughter.) If we can have everyone on the field, it'd be cool... We've got a lot of really good athletes, big people in that room. It's limitless."
For now, fall camp is just a couple months away. The coaching staff is not permitted to work with the players so it's up to the strength and conditioning coaches to keep the players busy. However, the senior leaders on the team have also played a big role in getting the players together for workouts and work on the playbook.
"We just started back up this week with our summer workouts," Bunting said. "We had a little time off before that and we just got back into it this week, we're basically exclusively with the strength staff right now. We'll work out during the week and a few nights a week we'll have just player-lead practices. It's usually just the older guys, quarterbacks usually do a lot of the getting people together. The older guys on the team like the senior leaders will do it, will send a text out to everyone and say we're meeting on these days at this time, everyone be there."